Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Doorstop, Ettalong Beach

04 March 2016

Ettalong Foreshore, Ettalong Beach

Prime Minister

Member for Robertson

E&OE

LUCY WICKS:

It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to welcome our Prime Minister back to the Central Coast for an incredibly important announcement for families, for businesses, for local residents right here on the Peninsula. Today I'm so proud to be able to say that just as we committed in the lead-up to the last election, we are delivering the NBN to more homes and businesses on the Central Coast much, much sooner than what would otherwise have been the case. It’s fantastic to be able to say today that people like Mitch can now experience the great benefits that the NBN has to offer with 30,000 homes and businesses now able to access the NBN on the Peninsula in places like Ettalong, Booker Bay, Umina, Woy Woy, Empire Bay, Killcare, Killcare Heights. Fantastic news for families, fantastic news for small businesses, fabulous news for our entrepreneurs on the Central Coast and there’s a great culture of innovation here on the Central Coast. Wonderful news for families, fabulous news for our commuters here on the Central Coast. So Prime Minister I do want to welcome you back to the Central Coast. You are no stranger of course to the Central Coast and in fact it was fantastic to spend time with Malcolm and one of the people who live here on the Central Coast, Martin McGuinness, some 18 months ago when we had a look at the trial of the NBN rollout on the Peninsula. Today is a great day because now 30,000 homes and businesses can experience the great benefits of superfast broadband on the Central Coast and without further ado, I’d invite Malcolm to officially launch the 30,000 homes and businesses on the Central Coast that can now access the NBN.

PRIME MINISTER:

Lucy thank you so much and Mitch good to be with you - a happy customer, ladies and gentlemen, that's what we want. And you know something? We've got well over 820,000 of them right around Australia and just last week there were 16,000 new activations on the NBN and 46,000 new premises added to it. It is ramping up and rolling out. 1.82 million premises right across Australia. And what we’re announcing today, as Lucy said, is that there are an additional 30,500 premises here on the Woy Woy Peninsula that are now available, where the NBN is available and this is because the NBN is using a mix of technologies to ensure that we get it rolled out as quickly as possible and we’re seeing that ramp up and that rollout because of the additional technologies that we’re using. Can I just say though that the NBN is much more than simply about connectivity. That is, it is a vital part of our telecommunications network. It was very poorly managed by Labor, of course. When we came into government in 2013, only one in 50 Australian premises, Australian households could connect to the NBN. By 30th June, it’ll be one in four and by 30th June 2018 it will be three in four and you can see that accelerating pace and that's because we are running it like a business. But let me tell you, this is a very big element in our transition, in our successful transition from an economy that is driven by a mining construction boom to one that is driven by innovation, by services, by access to the big open markets of Asia, by investment, by infrastructure, by technology. All of those elements in our transition that are key parts of our policy, of our innovation agenda, all of those elements are pulling together now to give us the strong growth we have. We had in the last year, stronger growth than any of the comparable developed countries with whom we are compared. 3% real across the year. Very strong growth and that is because Australians are confident, they’re optimistic, they know that the government is managing the big issues carefully, considering the big issues carefully, based on evidence and coming to the right decisions. They know that with the NBN, a project that was left in a shocking mess by the Labor Party, there’s no doubt about that, I think everyone accepts that and many people said, "It's such a mess, you can't fix it." Well we have. We’re rolling at it out at an accelerating pace and customers are getting a good experience and before we go to the questions you have of Lucy and myself, I’m going to ask Mitch here to tell us, he’s just got connected and Mitch, how’s it going? Come, tell us how you’re getting on? What are you using the NBN for here?

MITCH WARR:

So far it’s been an absolutely fantastic experience, from start to finish, it’s been cruisy as. The whole start from setting it up to now being connected, has just been incredible. The whole thing’s been fantastic. I mean the key things that have been of benefit of the NBN and the service now provided with is that I’m able to now multitask with my services. Before I was sort of limited. I mean, it was useful but I wasn't able to sort of do multi-tasking, multiple things at the same time. Now I can be at home downloading things at the same, watching movies, listening to Spotify, watching Netflix, all that sort of stuff and it all just works perfect simultaneously, it all just works well and I haven’t had any drop-outs, I haven’t had any problems and it’s just, so far it’s worked like a dream and couldn’t be happier.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that's great Mitch so tell your friends. Get in touch with your favourite telco and get the NBN enabled service connected, particularly if you’re here in Woy Woy. Here on the peninsula, an additional 30,500 premises, right across the Central Coast there is 94, 95,000 premises that the service is available at, and at by 2017 the whole Central Coast will be complete. So this is a very rapid rollout and we are getting on with the job. And, can I say, Lucy, it would not have been so effective; it would not have been so rapid without your remarkable advocacy. You've been a powerful force for recognising how critically important good connectivity here is on the Central Coast for all the business and other reasons that you described. And, apart from that, it is wonderful to come up here on the train, beautiful day. It’s hard to think of a prettier train ride in Australia. Anyway, any questions from our friends from the media?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, you mentioned there you've got happy customers. Here on the Central Coast, in Senate Estimates, they heard that some customers here who have connected have actually got slower speeds now than when they did before connecting. What do you say to that? How can someone be a happy customer if they've got slower speeds?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, all I can say to you is that I can't address the question of the particular customer. But I can say to you that right across the network we’re seeing very high levels of customer satisfaction. As the companies described, the level of customer satisfaction is as high for people connected as Mitch is, on the fibre to the node set-up, which of course much faster and cheaper to roll out as it is for people connected on fibre to the premises. So, we are getting very high levels of customer satisfaction in fact.

JOURNALIST:

How does the Government regain the trust of those who aren't getting that high level of satisfaction when you promised such an ambitious rollout scheme?

PRIME MINISTER:

All I can say to you - you are saying that some people are unhappy, there are representatives from the NBN Co here, I can say right across Australia the levels of satisfaction of the NBN service are very good. But I should note, and I will be reverting to my old role as Communications Minister, that the speed that you have in your house or your business is affected by a lot of factors, many of them very often are in your own premises, your wireless router or your own computers, there are a lot of factors that can affect that, so not just the connection between your house and the internet, which is for the exchange, which is what the NBN delivers is just one part of the package.

JOURNALIST:

Have you heard of accounts of people being off the grid for weeks at a time?

PRIME MINISTER:

What we have heard, clearly there will always be issues, but all I can say to you is that across the nation we are getting very good reports. Mitch's reports, Mitch’s account, is very typical of the high levels of customer satisfaction.

JOURNALIST:

It hasn't been the smoothest week for the Government this week with the Defence leak. How do you recover from that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, we are getting on with the job. Can I just say to you that the, I'm really glad you mentioned Defence because the Defence White Paper which the Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne and I released last week, is a great example of investment in technology and innovation. It is an example of an investment in Australian technology and Australian innovation. It is part of our program to transition Australia from a strong economy that was led by big investment in mining construction, which of course has not come to an end completely, but tapered down, to one that is driven by innovation, by science, by technology, by the jobs of the 21st century, and we are seeing the growth. We had very strong growth in the December quarter, very strong growth. Stronger growth than any of the other comparable developed countries we talk about last year, and we had over 300,000 new jobs added in Australia last year. That's more than in any year since 2006. So you know the reality is the economy is - we're not complacent, I might add, but the economy is moving along well. Australians are confident. What in many other countries has been a very difficult transition, we are getting right and we are getting right because of the policies of our Government.

JOURNALIST:

Do you feel that Tony Abbott needs to be brought into line?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sorry?

JOURNALIST:

Do you feel that Tony Abbott needs to be brought into line?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well look Tony Abbott is entitled to express his views. He’s a former Prime Minister. He has got to form his own judgment about his comments. He made some remarks during the week about submarines which were commented on, and in fact contradicted, by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Defence Department. I mean, the reality, the simple reality is this - the expert advice to the Australian Government on the submarine program and as to its timing has been consistent since 2013, and you take the word of Dennis Richardson, the Secretary of the Defence Department, take the word of the Chief of the Defence Force. So that is the facts. So Tony expressed a different perspective, but the people that have been giving the Government that advice for that period made the facts very, very plain. And I respect Tony's right to speak his mind and he should continue to do so, but it's very important that as Prime Minister I set the record straight. We, in terms of what we put in the Defence White Paper in terms of our estimates of times for completion, and operation of new equipment, including submarines, we rely exclusively on the expert advice of the Defence Department and of course the defence forces, and their two leaders have made the facts very, very clear.

JOURNALIST:

Do you feel he is undermining your leadership by making these comments?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I'm not going to run a commentary on individuals or of the kind you are seeking me to do. It’s very important to Australians understand that my job and Lucy's job is to ensure that we successfully transition from the mining construction boom-led economy to one that is based on science, innovation, technology and, of course, accessing with an innovative approach all of those big markets in Asia. You’ve got, right around the country, every form of export industry is doing well, whether it's in agriculture, whether it's in tourism, whether it's in education right across the board. And that, part of that, is because of the access to the markets that we have opened up, particularly the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Now, the Defence program is part of that. Defence technologies are at the cutting-edge of innovation and they have enormous spill over benefits elsewhere in the economy, and so that's why our whole Defence White Paper is in many respects an innovation paper. The Defence investment program is very much about innovation. Every page is about innovation. And so that's what we are focused on and so that's our job and you know frankly, Australians expect us to just get on with it. They want us to continue to deliver strong economic growth. We are not complacent as I said, but so far all of the statistics and the numbers are looking good, and right here today, building the NBN, building it sooner, building it cheaper - remember, the NBN, under our approach will be completed six to eight years sooner and $30 billion cheaper than it would have been under Labor. That is a critically important step.

JOURNALIST:

Why have you cancelled the Treasurers' summit?

PRIME MINISTER:

Sorry?

JOURNALIST:

Can I ask why you have cancelled the Treasurers' summit?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Treasurers, State Treasurers and the Federal Treasurer were due to meet on the 11th of March and what we are having is a combined meeting of Premiers and Treasurers on 8th April instead. So that is the, so there will be a meeting of Premiers and Treasurers. Ok thank you very much.

Ends